Tuesday 3 September 2019 - People's Vote

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Morning Briefing: Justine Greening quits as MPs prepare to block Johnson's No Deal

While yesterday was filled by rumour, gossip and speculation, today is when the action starts: the five-week recess is over, MPs are back in Parliament.

Boris Johnson’s unopposed summer leadership honeymoon of big spending promises, threats to “our EU friends”, kowtowing to Donald Trump, bullying errant MPs and wargaming No Deal tactics comes to an end. Democracy, a word that he often uses but fears more than any other, is back with MPs opposing in Parliament and the people opposing him on the streets outside.

Last night, his attempt to once again bully moderate, patriotic MPs standing up against him and standing up for democracy with early election hints was almost drowned out by protesters calling to "Stop the Coup". Protesters backed by the People’s Vote campaign will be out on the streets again today to make our voices heard.

MPs who care about democracy and the national interest are not going to be brow-beaten into backing Johnson. This morning, Putney MP Justine Greening announced she is quitting before the next election, saying that Boris Johnson is leading the party towards a "lose-lose" General Election that offers the alternatives of "No Deal or Jeremy Corbyn". She said she is "deeply concerned" that Johnson and his team condemn objections to Brexit as "Project Fear, without tackling those real fears". And the former Education Secretary made clear the only legitimate way to solve this crisis will be to have a People's Vote.

It is vital to keep fighting for the right course. Johnson has no mandate for No Deal. If there has to be an election first, we will have to win it, but we know that we can. Let Us Be Heard.

Greening quits as Johnson drive for No Deal opens Conservative cracks

The Conservative Party is facing a huge split after Boris Johnson's aggressive drive towards No Deal has led to popular MP Justine Greening this morning announcing that she will quit before the next election.

Ms Greening, a former Secretary of State for Education, decided to jump before any attempt to push her out - leaving her free to vote to block No Deal alongside colleagues such as former Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Minister David Gauke and others. Talking to the BBC's Today programme this morning, she was scathing in how Johnson is ignoring the real concerns that ordinary people have over No Deal and Brexit. She is a strong supporter of a People's Vote.

For all of Boris Johnson’s bluster about trying to get a new deal with the EU, it is ever clearer that there are no real negotiations going on with the EU, no new proposals to shift away from No Deal.

With The Telegraph reporting that Johnson’s hatchet man Dominic Cummings openly described the EU negotiation as “a sham” and no new proposals forthcoming to Brussels, it is what is driving the cross-party alliance to try and grab control of the House schedule today to try and force through legislation blocking No Deal before Parliament is shutdown next week.

Philip Hammond was forthright on the BBC's Today programme this morning, saying that no progress had been made in negotiations with Europe and that the threat to deselect rebel MPs is "rank hypocrisy". He questioned whether Dominic Cummings is a member of the Conservative Party and said that the treatment of sacked Special Adviser Sonia Khan was "shocking". He believed that opponents to No Deal have the numbers to win tonight's and tomorrow's votes.

Johnson is threatening to ask for an early election on October 14 if he loses this crucial phase and his brutal warning to rebel MPs, including ex-Chancellors and ministers, that they will be de-selected has potential to completely split the Conservative Party. But he no longer has the power to call a General Election on his own and is totally reliant on the Opposition to agree to it, something that many don't want to do.

Already fellow Cabinet colleague Amber Rudd has warned the Prime Minister not to kick out senior politicians who have been faithfully following their own government’s policy.

It is telling that somehow Johnson seems to be uniting Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, Philip Hammond and the “Gaukeward” squad, the Lib Dems, SNPs and others opposed to a destructive No Deal. Philip Hammond spoke this morning on BBC's Today programme about the "aggressive operation" and said some Conservatives are 'incensed by the actions". 

Whether we end up with a snap General Election from a panicked Johnson, whose majority of one leaves him so vulnerable, depends on the numbers in Parliament.

But we remain clear: the only way out of this political crisis is a People’s Vote. It is time for the people to be heard to resolve this ongoing nightmare.

Gove pulls watered-down Yellowhammer report because it is "too pessimistic"

How bad is it going to be after a destructive No Deal? Well, this cowardly government don’t want you to know as Michael Gove pulled publication of the controversial Operation Yellowhammer’s No Deal contingency report as it is “too pessimistic”.

Remember, that the leak of an earlier version predicted food, fuel and medicine shortages, chaos at airports, trouble on the Irish border and ministers acted with outrage, saying it was a “worst case scenario” and an old report.

But the FT revealed this morning that plans to release the revised and watered-down report today have been blocked: minister for No Deal planning Gove doesn’t want you to know how bad even a “neutralised” version is likely to be.

Hilary Benn, chair of the Commons Brexit committee, said: “A sanitised version of the Operation Yellowhammer report will not do. The government needs to be completely open and transparent with MPs and the public about the full implications of the damage that a no-deal Brexit would inflict on the country.”

Doctors warn No Deal could cause "disintegration' of the NHS

No Deal could cause the “disintegration” of the NHS with “irreparable damage” and harm to the nation’s health, in a major report from the British Medical Association.

The doctors’ body warns that a tough winter coupled with No Deal consequences could be “catastrophic”.

BMA Council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Recent winters have seen unprecedented scenes unfold in our hospitals with patients suffering and staff under increasing pressure.

“Add to that chaos a 'no deal' Brexit and the disintegration of the health service becomes an ever more real prospect.”

And an extraordinary spat between Jacob Rees-Mogg and consultant neurologist David Nicholl, who drew up mitigation plans for the government, ended up with the medical expert describing the politician as a “muppet” and challenged Rees-Mogg to refer him to the General Medical Council.

There is clearly a lot of tension between medical experts and the government over the potential threat of No Deal. Johnson and his colleagues are blindly driving down the No Deal road and doctors can see the very real damage this will do to the most vulnerable in our society.

It's clear that Brexit must be put to the people. Now is a crucial time to get involved with the People's Vote campaign. Sign up to volunteer today. 

Quote of the Day

“The only legitimate way to settle the crisis is to go back to the people and ask them in a final say referendum if they really want to go ahead now that we know so much more about what his Brexit would mean. But, like all bullies, Boris Johnson is scared of something. The irony is, that for someone who poses as a populist, it turns out he’s scared of the people.”

People's Vote political committee joint-chair Margaret Beckett MP reacts to Boris Johnson's speech last night at Number 10.

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More Brexit news...

No Deal to irreparably ravage healthcare services, warns BMA (Pulse)

Gove pulls plans to release "watered down" Yellowhammer (FT £)

Cabinet revolt as Amber Rudd warns Johnson not to deselect Tory No Deal rebels (PoliticsHome)

Johnson threatening October 14 election (HuffPost)

No Deal looms as leak reveals Cummings considers EU negotiations "a sham" (Telegraph £)

More Brexit comment...

Rachel Sylvester: Boris Johnson's luck might be about to run out (The Times £)

David Gauke: I'll vote against the party whip to put national interest first (The Times £)

Andrew Herridge: I am an NHS worker from the North-East - Brexit is wrecking everything around me (New European)

Guto Bebb: Welsh and Scottish Conservatives face electoral oblivion in the pursuit of No Deal (PoliticsHome)